In their leader on the midterm elections, The Economist says that: “talk of impeaching Mr Bush is dangerous” but offers no reasoning for the claim. While impeachment is obviously an extreme response, it is one that has been contemplated several times in the last century. It seems to me that a case can be made that wiretapping, torture, the denial of legal rights to American citizens, and the widespread rejection of international law create at least the possibility that this administration is as criminal as that of Richard Nixon. The list certainly makes Bill Clinton’s crime of lying under oath seem reasonably trivial.
Perhaps they mean that talk of impeachment is dangerous to the Democrats, because it risks turning a reversal of the Congressional majority into an opportunity to settle political scores. The Democrats obviously need to become a solid-seeming alternative before the 2008 elections, and too many inquiries and accusations could be a distraction. This is an argument with which I have some sympathy, but if the Democrats are likely to be elected more out of anger directed towards the Republicans than because of their own ideas – as seems to be the case – then it is perhaps exactly such inquiries that they are being elected to conduct.
Let’s just hope that a Democratic congress, if such a thing arises on Tuesday, will be able to generate some better policies, instead of just recriminations.